Book Tasting … YUMMMM!

I’m newly in love with room transformations. I’m a huge supporter of not only flexible seating but having a flexible classroom. If it’s not nailed down, I’ll move it at some point in the year! This experience was my first real dabble in a room transformation. It was fourth quarter and I was ready to try something different. I was getting tired of guided reading and regular reading partners and decided I was going to attempt student led book clubs, modeled after the literature circles I read about in Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz. I’ve seen on Pinterest and Instagram photos of teachers and school librarians turning their spaces into restaurants and having a book tasting to get kids interested in reading different types of books. I decided to use a similar process to introduce the 6 books they would get to choose from for their book clubs.

I bought:

  1. Checkered table cloths
  2. fake flowers from the dollar store
  3. chef hat

Around the school I was able to find vases and a plastic tray. I chose books that were at the benchmark reading level and a little above because that best matched the needs of my students. I used our guided reading book sets from the book room so I knew I would have multiples for each child.

I welcomed students back to the classroom dressed as Head Chef DiOrio. I invited them to taste as many books as they could.

I had students shop around the tables to see the different books I was offering for book clubs. They had to look at covers before they could get their menu to fill out.

I provided each student with a menu to fill out the information about their top 3 book choices.

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Look at that tongue!

They worked so hard to give me feedback. I played some instrumental cafe music as they did they sneak peeks. I love Vitamin String Quartet for things like this because the music is familiar yet calm. I told students that they needed to give me clear reasons why they wanted certain books. “I like it” or “It is interesting” weren’t enough to convince me.

I hid sealed envelopes with kids’ names on them as a special “reveal” for book clubs.

Inside each envelope was a colored card.

The colored card revealed the book they would read for book clubs.

We spent a week in book clubs reading the books multiple times together and independently with different purposes: characters, setting, problem and solution, lesson learned, and authors purpose (RL1.1, RL1.2, RL1.3, RL1.6 RL1.7, RL1.10). Students responded to their reading in their reading notebooks.

We of course had to celebrate the time spent really getting to know these books!

There’s no better way to do tho that than with food (obviously).

Readers read their favorite parts, shared what they learned, asked and answered questions about the books, and compared and contrasted the stories while we ate (RL1.1, RL1.2, RL1.3, RL1.5, RL1.9).

The conversations were so natural and the students absolutely enjoyed every minute. They were always on topic. It almost felt wrong to use these conversations as an assessment but I learned so much from my readers while they talked. This was the most realistic assessment they may ever have.

This was a memorable experience for both the students and myself and it was tightly tied into the standards I am required to teach in first grade. The photos above are from 2 years ago but I did it again last year and plan to do it again this year! A book tasting is a really light lift when it comes to room transformations. I am really excited to try more and bigger room transformations as I learn more about innovative teaching practices and integrating my curriculum.

Tell me all about your room transformation s and ways you have integrated your curriculum!

Learn Like a Pirate

Why I chose this book

I chose this book because I was interested in shifting from a student-centered classroom to a student-led classroom.

Major takeaways

First off, I loved the Easter eggs in this book! The author, Paul Solarz, included additional content throughout the book using QR codes to his blog posts and documents he created that support the chapter. I felt like I hit the jackpot each time I scanned one of those things! I couldn’t get enough!

I am laying off the jobs and turning up classroom responsibilities. After reading this book, my class was charged with the responsibility of answering the phone and relaying messages, running morning meeting, running math routines, and changing the calendar and schedule. I wanted to get rid of classroom jobs altogether, but my firsties were up in arms and did not want those assigned jobs to go away. Instead, I let kids choose their jobs each week.

We had major conversations about growing as leaders in our classroom. When the kids were in charge, I would sit and wait for them to move things along rather than moving it along myself. This was awkward and uncomfortable at times because I would just sit and wait. Once they realized what needed to be done, 4-19 kids would jump up at once to do it. We had to talk about the difference between active leadership and passive leadership. I needed to explain that if someone gets up to do something, let them be the leader. You can be a passive leader by allowing them their turn.

Chapter 3 was all about collaboration. He talked about setting up your space to encourage collaboration which includes flexibility with furniture. This section challenged my thinking about flexible seating. The chairs and seating options shouldn’t be the only thing that’s flexible in your classrooms. Tables can move too. Kids should have the agency to decide when and where furniture needs to move to support their learning. This paradigm shift inspired me to write the post From Makerspace to Maker-Classroom.

After reading chapter 5, I tried my first literature circle with the support of our literacy coach Jessica VonDerHeide. We chose a book and introduced roles to a reading group and used the roles to help focus conversations about the book. Then, I decided to try this with the whole class and let them choose their books. The boys in the first group became the leaders and help to teach the roles. I made sure they were all in different groups so they could help to train the others. This worked so well, we did it twice before the end of the school year!

       

The 34 skills listed on page 180-191 are the skills I am now using to set goals for my students, PBLs, and other learning experiences.

Making it accessible for Littles

“Start small. Give your students simple jobs.” – Paul Solarz, page 20. This right here makes everything in this book accessible to littles. Pick one or 2 things then gradually release more and more as they are ready for it.

Paul talks about giving students the power of “Give me 5.” This is something I am going to do with my students this new school year. So many times littles come up to the teacher to ask a simple question that other kids might know the answer to. I would love my firsties to say, “Give me 5” then ask their question to seek clarification or get help. Teachers don’t always need to be the one with all the information or the one to jump in and save the day.

Littles naturally look for ways to improve. In chapter 4, Paul talks about portfolios and feedback. My students use Seesaw as a digital portfolio to collect their work. They leave each other comments on work as feedback. I ask them to focus their comments to glows and grows, say something kind, say something helpful, or ask a question. Focusing their thoughts and giving them sentence starters can really support littles in providing peer feedback.

The book study PLN

Caitlin McCommons and I wanted to lead a book study because we both love to read professional books but we’re both social and like to bounce our learning off of others. So we decided to launch our first digital book study using this book. We reached out to our PTA who was able to help supply some books to 6 lucky teachers! We gathered staff from our school and a school across our district who were interested in learning and growing with us. We decided to use Flipgrid as a platform for discussion because it simulates a face to face discussion but is much more flexible! You can check out our learning here: Also, feel free to add to it! We’ll never close it!

https://flipgrid.com/b39zdb?embed=true

We’ll also be launching a new book study in September so watch Twitter for the announcement!

If you’ve read this book I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways! Please share in the comments below!